This episode of Lifespan News is about Altos Labs, a new billionare-financed company that is pledged to focus on aging.
There’s a new company focused on solving aging! Investors are reported to include billionaires Yuri Milner and Jeff Bezos. In recent months, there’s been some hints, but considerable secrecy, surrounding the formation of a new aging research company by some prominent members of the bio-rejuvenation community.
Well, it appears the mystery of this new, large-scale venture has finally been solved. The new company is reportedly called ‘Altos Labs’, apparently named after “Los Altos, California” in Silicon Valley where Russian-born Yuri purchased a mansion in 2011 that made national headlines due to the $100 million dollar sale price – which was the most expensive single family home ever purchased in the United States at that time.
It’s important to understand that Altos Labs hasn’t made an official announcement yet, so we’re doing our best here at Lifespan News to get you this video based on current available information and we encourage you to check our sources in the video description as always. An article recently released in MIT Technology Review by Antonio Regalado revealed much of the details of Altos Labs that we’re sharing in this video.
Yuri is one of two confirmed billionaire investors of Altos Labs. Yuri was an early investor in Facebook and has a net worth currently estimated at about $5 billion dollars, according to Forbes. The other billionaire investor is reportedly Jeff, the world’s current wealthiest person with a net worth of about $200 billion dollars, according to Forbes. Jeff founded Amazon in 1994 as CEO and remained CEO until Jeff stepped down to become executive chairman on July 5th, 2021.
A securities disclosure filed in California in June 2021 indicates Altos Labs has raised at least $270 million dollars. Incorporated in Delaware and in the UK earlier in 2021, Altos Labs plans to establish several institutes in places including the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, Cambridge, UK and Japan, and is recruiting a large group of university bio-rejuvenation scientists with lavish annual salaries around $1 million dollars plus potentially Altos Labs stock and the promise that they can pursue unfettered blue-sky research on how cells age and how to reverse that process.
Long time longevity enthusiasts will no doubt be familiar with past formations of seemingly similar companies, such as the Google-backed Calico, which appeared with a great amount of hype about how Google was taking on death about 8 years ago in September 2013. I remember I was super excited when the Calico news broke. While considerable fanfare heralded Calico’s arrival, very little in terms of tangible rejuvenation tech has resulted, unfortunately.
Instead, Calico has produced fundamental research about the biology of aging, which of course has a valid place, but such research does not exactly live up to the expectations that the longevity community had for Calico in late 2013, especially considering the enormous resources Calico has spent compared to other much less well funded entities focused on solving aging. That said, the one exception to this was Calico’s recently published work about safer cellular reprogramming, which may prove useful in the future. If you’d like to learn more about this, check the video description to read Lifespan.io’s article by Arkadi Mazin.
So how might Altos Labs be more successful compared to Calico? Well unlike the fairly vague goals that accompanied Calico’s arrival, Altos Labs has set its sights on a promising target: cellular reprogramming, which has been shown to reverse epigenetic alterations in mice which we’ve reported here at Lifespan News; click the card above or check the video description to watch that episode.
Some great researchers are reported to be involved in Altos Labs. Partial cellular reprogramming pioneer, Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, a Spanish biologist at the Salk Institute, is rumoured to be joining Altos Labs. Belmonte famously demonstrated that living animals could have their cells rejuvenated using partial cellular reprogramming in 2016. While Salk has not confirmed this yet to the best of our knowledge, if Belmonte is on the Altos Labs team, that gives us more confidence in this venture leading to something useful.
Steve Horvath, pioneer of DNA methylation clocks, the gold standard for aging biomarkers, is also reportedly joining Altos Labs. Steve has a wealth of experience regarding aging biomarkers and has spent years constantly improving and refining aging clocks to support the progress of our field. Shinya Yamanaka, who shared a 2012 Nobel Prize for the discovery of cellular reprogramming, will reportedly be an unpaid senior scientist and will chair Altos Labs’ scientific advisory board. It’s very likely this roster of researchers will continue to grow in the next few months, so make sure you’re subscribed with the bell turned to all notifications for updates.
While it’s tempting to judge Altos Labs on the current disappointment of Calico, personally, I’m excited about Altos Labs. I can’t wait to see how this story develops because I believe Altos Labs has the right focus and some of the right people, and it certainly has raised a significant amount of money thus far with a realistic path to raise much more money considering the world’s wealthiest person is invested.
Another non-governmental entity that has massive funding and can potentially receive even more massive funding is The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, or CZI, which was founded in 2015 by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife and Medical Doctor, Priscilla Chan, who are also co-owners and co-CEOs of CZI. The power couple reportedly plan to make an investment in CZI of 99 percent of their wealth from their Facebook shares over their lifetime, thus setting up CZI to likely be one of the most well-funded philanthropies in human history and setting an example of philanthrocapitalism.
The CZI’s mission is “to build a more inclusive, just, and healthy future for everyone”. CZI states, “We support the science and technology that will make it possible to cure, prevent, or manage all diseases by the end of the 21st century. We foster collaboration between scientists and engineers, develop new technologies, and build support for basic scientific research.” Here at Lifespan News, we’ve also reported on the potential for Elon Musk’s Neuralink to help improve healthy longevity and Elon said this in 2020, “With effort that’s not too crazy, you could probably stop aging, reverse it if you want”.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on Altos Labs, Calico, CZI and Neuralink to see how things develop. I’m very excited to see some of the world’s wealthiest people creating companies focused on solving aging, which is responsible for about 110,000 daily deaths globally on average out of about 150,000 total daily deaths globally on average.
What’s most exciting to you about this episode? I would really like to know what you think in the comments below. To learn more about this story, click the link in the video description for a recent article by Lifespan.io’s Editor in Chief Steve Hill. If you found this video valuable, please consider sharing it. Thanks, and we’ll see ya in the next video.